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Backus man denies charge of having sex with student

A former teacher at Voyageurs Expeditionary School in Bemidji has pleaded not guilty to having sex with one of his students.

Paul Joseph Johnson, 48, of Backus, is accused of having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl. Johnson taught math at the school for five years. He was placed on unpaid leave and later terminated from his job at Voyageurs after the charges were brought against him in January.

The girl informed law enforcement that she and Johnson engaged in a romantic, sexual relationship from October to December. Court documents say the student and Johnson engaged in sexual intercourse at least three times.

Johnson faces a charge of third-degree criminal sexual conduct, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $30,000 fine.

He entered a not guilty plea Monday, June 9, in Beltrami County Court.

A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Aug. 19.

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